MDC Bat Habitat Conservation Plan
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) developed a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) under Section 10(a)(1)(B) of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). The HCP protects five listed or otherwise at-risk bat species while allowing specific MDC activities to occur. The key elements of the HCP are: Covered Species, Covered Activities, Plan Area and Covered Lands, and Permit Term and Permittees. These HCP elements are summarized below. The draft HCP can be accessed below:
MDC is requesting incidental take coverage for five bat species:
- Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). Federally listed as endangered.
- Gray bat (Myotis grisescens). Federally listed as endangered.
- Northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis). Federally listed as threatened.
- Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus). Under status review by the Service with the potential to become federally listed.
- Tricolored bat (Perimyotis subflavus). Petitioned for listing with a strong likelihood of becoming federally listed.
MDC manages land for the purpose of promoting fish and wildlife habitat, enhancing and maintaining forest health, and providing recreational opportunities. Covered Activities are those MDC activities for which take authorization via an Incidental Take Permit is being sought. The HCP covers three major categories of Covered Activities: 1) habitat management, 2) public access and asset management, and 3) HCP implementation. Habitat management may include prescribed fire and tree removal for habitat management and restoration. Covered Activities associated with public access and asset management are necessary to maintain the infrastructure (e.g., buildings, roads, water tanks) needed to administer MDC lands and to allow for public access, and may include tree removal, vehicle operations, and demolition of structures. Implementation of the HCP conservation strategy may require activities (e.g., monitoring) that affect Covered Species.
Plan Area and Covered Lands
The Plan Area for the HCP is defined as the entire state of Missouri and includes all lands necessary for the HCP to be fully implemented, including all areas where impacts, conservation actions, and monitoring would take place. The Covered Lands are subsumed by the Plan Area and include those areas where the incidental take authorization applies. The Covered Lands consist of approximately 42 million acres in two categories: MDC lands (those owned and/or managed by MDC) and other non-federal lands (lands not owned by the federal government or MDC where MDC financially supports or provides assistance to manage fish, forest, and wildlife resources). Of the 42 million acres of Covered Lands, 15.7 million acres are forested land that provide potential habitat to the Covered Species. The majority of Covered Activities would occur on MDC lands.
Permit Term and Permittee
MDC is seeking a 50-year Incidental Take Permit from the Service. This Permit Term was selected because it provides a foreseeable planning horizon of the effects of forest management activities on species listing, Covered Activities, and for the full implementation and evaluation of the conservation strategy including monitoring and adaptive management. MDC also considered 50 years to allow for a sufficient assessment of many of the effects of the proposed forest management activities on Covered Species, for tracking the implementation of conservation actions, and for tracking the responses of resources to climate change and the uncertainties associated with the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS) and WNS's effects on bats.
The permittee for the Incidental Take Permit is MDC. The HCP and Incidental Take Permit would allow for implementation of the Covered Activities and conservation and monitoring actions. Actions undertaken on non-federal lands under the authority of MDC are also covered. For Covered Activities taken on non-federal lands to be covered by the HCP, there must be an MDC nexus with the project, and MDC must have direct authority over the project for the Covered Activity.